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Ask Habitat: How Can We Deal with Dog-walkers Coming In and Out of Our Co-op?

New York City

Dog-Walking Etiquette
Dec. 4, 2014

HABITAT ANSWERS: Pets in general and dogs in particular can be a thorny topic for boards. Besides the question of whether you allow them in the building at all, there is the issue of dog-walking etiquette, especially as practiced by strangers.

The co-op board should work with the building attorney to draft rules and regulations about dog-walkers who need access to apartments while tenants are away — or review any policy they have in place to see if it needs revisions.

Determine where you stand on dog-walkers coming into the building with a pack of dogs. Can they come in with one or two dogs to collect the dog in the building? Specify the number of dogs allowed access to the lobby and elevator, and clarify that if it's more than three (or whatever number), the dog-walker must leave them tied outside the building.

Dog-walkers who are allowed access to the building with a couple of dogs must keep them under control at all times. Be very clear that outside dogs must not interfere with building residents, and that the building reserves the right to have the dog-walker leave boisterous or (especially) aggressive dogs tied outside the property.

If your building has a service elevator, then dog-walkers should take it instead of using the main elevator.

Your co-op should require dog-walking companies to be bonded and insured. The co-op should also require tenants to use dog-walking companies that conduct background checks on their staff, since keys are being given out.

However, you cannot expect building staff — including doormen — to keep track of dog-walkers.

Depending on the staff to screen your dog-walkers can be a hit-or-miss proposition. The doorman can’t be expected to remember all the details — and you’re asking for trouble if you let him decide who can have access to your apartment.

Rules are probably going to differ depending on the nature of the property, but once they are in place, building staff and residents alike must be made aware of them and informed that there are no exceptions.


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